August Macke- Der Sturm
The storm - A. Macke

Last week, I started a series of short posts called "The same poem, one more song." As the title suggests, our goal is to listen to a song (in principle, little known) that sets into music a poem that we have already heard on Liederabend in another version  (in principle, best known)

This week's poem begins with the verse “Aus der Heimat hinten den Blitzen rot” [From the direction of home, behind the red flashes of lightning], by Joseph von Eichendorff. We're familiar with it thanks to a Lied by Robert Schumann, In der Fremde, which opens his Liederkreis, Op. 39. It is a purely romantic poem, like the whole cycle: the feeling of belonging nowhere, the threat of a storm, and death... An scenario that is drawn from a fiction work, the novel Viel Lärmen um nichts [Much Ado About Nothing].

For Hanns Eisler, who was not a romantic at all, Eichendorff's verses meant something elHe had left Germany in 1933 to escape Nazism. For five years he had moved through Europe, also driven by the threat; in 1938 he arrived in New York and in 1942 in Hollywood. While he enjoyed respect, a good job, and a good income, that world was too foreign to him, and he was overcome with concern for his country. That is what the songs he wrote there convey, a collection entitled Hollywooder Liederbuch. More than half of them have a poem by his friend Bertolt Brecht, whom he had met again in California. But one, only one, No. 36, has verses by Eichendorff: the first stanza of our poem.

With his usual concision, and music far from Schumann's melancholy, Eisler, who has been away from home for ten years, writes a song called Erinnerungen an Eichendorff und Schumann [Memories of Eichendorff and Schumann] which begins with the words “Aus der Heimat hinten den Blitzen rot”. And, given his circumstances, the stanza takes a new meaning. Our version is that of Wolfgang Holzmair and Peter Stamm.


Erinnerungen an Eichendorff und Schumann

Aus der Heimat hinter den Blitzen rot
Da kommen die Wolken her,
Aber Vater und Mutter sind lange tot,
Es kennt mich dort keiner mehr.

From the direction of home, behind the red flashes of lightning
There come clouds,
But Father and Mother are long dead;
No one there knows me anymore.

(translation by Emily Ezust)


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